The Colorado fire smolders south of Carmel.
(Via Caltrans)

Colorado fire: Containment at 35%; new mapping puts Big Sur blaze at 700 acres

Firefighters made more progress Sunday on the wildfire burning south of Carmel, which was said to be 35% contained and smaller than previously estimated at 700 acres. Hundreds remained evacuated after the blaze sparked Friday night in Palo Colorado Canyon amid blustery winds, and Highway 1 was closed from the Granite Canyon Bridge to Andrew Molera State Park.

A brushfire that started Friday night amid high winds in Big Sur was 35% contained as of late Sunday, and officials said new mapping put the Colorado fire’s size at 700 acres, down from the previous figure of 1,050 acres.

Cal Fire officials said the Colorado fire had destroyed one structure, a yurt, and a fire engine had been damaged in the fight against the blaze that broke out Friday in the Palo Colorado area.

Conditions remained favorable into Sunday afternoon, Cal Fire spokesperson Cecile Juliette told the San Jose Mercury News.

“Things are going really well,” Juliette said. “They’re making progress. The weather is favorable today.”

The Colorado fire was reported around 7 p.m. Friday amid blustery winds, forcing evacuations on the east side of Highway 1 from Palo Colorado Road to Rocky Creek Bridge, said Mike Meddles, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection duty chief. Firefighters from more than a dozen agencies, including the Cal Fire CZU unit that covers Santa Cruz County, were helping on the blaze — 188 total from across the state, per Cal Fire’s Sunday morning update.

The view of the Colorado fire in Big Sur early Saturday morning from Capitola.
(Via Clay Butler)

Per the National Weather Service, the fire was “stubbornly active” overnight Friday, with images and video from social media suggesting “some pretty surreal fire behavior given the wet October and December observed across the region.”

The California Department of Transportation closed Highway 1 in both directions from near the entrance to Andrew Molera State Park in Big Sur to Rio Road in Carmel, later moving the northern closure point to Granite Canyon Bridge.

The National Weather Service said the fire was burning south of Palo Colorado along Long Ridge in an area with little or no fire history. It’s near the burn scare of the 2016 Soberanes fire; the 2008 Basin and 2013 Pfeiffer blazes did not touch this area, nor did the 1977 Marble Cone or 1999 Kirk Complex.

“When you have these local fire departments like us, it’s not a job we go to. It’s a love for our community — it’s not someone else’s home that is going to burn, it’s our home, it’s our friend’s, our family’s, our neighbor’s,” Cheryl Goetz, chief of the Mid Coast Fire Brigade, told Monterey County Weekly. “The community needs to know how hard we are working. We’re going to get there. We haven’t lost any homes and no one, so far, has gotten hurt.

“But anything can change in the blink of an eye. Until it is 100 percent contained, there is no guarantee.”

Farther north, firefighters in Sonoma County were able to extinguish a fire on Geyser Peak in the Alexander Valley early Saturday morning. Wind gusts as high as 90 mph fanned the blaze, which grew to around 5 acres in an area that recently got a coating a snow before it was put out by daylight.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.